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New statewide drug monitoring program impacts pharmacies in Missouri

Governor Mike Parson signed the prescription drug monitoring bill on June 7.
Governor Mike Parson signed the prescription drug monitoring bill on June 7.(Isabelle Hanson/KFVS)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Missouri pharmacies will soon need to join a system that monitors the use of certain prescription drugs.

Governor Mike Parson signed a bill on June 7 that creates a statewide, prescription drug monitoring program.

“What we try to do is look and monitor and make sure there’s not abuse. We know that we have an opioid epidemic right now,” said Abe Funk, co-owner of John’s Pharmacy in Cape Girardeau.

Participating in a prescription drug monitoring program isn’t new to Funk. John’s Pharmacy uses a system run by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

“There have been a number of times where we’ll get requests from physicians’ offices or there’s a suspicious prescription that comes up, and so we’ll double check and look in it,” said Funk. “Setting it up was very easy. The data flows automatically to their system every night. As far as ease of set up, it’s very simple for all the pharmacies.”

“We have a little over 50 percent of our counties now a part of the current program,” said Senator Holly Rehder.

Senator Rehder’s the force behind the new law that creates the statewide program.

“Once the statewide program is up and functional, the county program will fold into that, and it will be a seamless transition, and then the other counties remaining will be in it as well,” she said.

If the state’s system is similar to St. Louis County’s, Funk said it should be easy for pharmacy owners to join.

“The win that we get for being able to help these patients is so much bigger than the little bit of effort than we have to put in up front,” said Funk.

According to Funk, joining forces with pharmacists across the state means more people will get help if they need it.

“Because if they filled a prescription at John’s Pharmacy, and they also filled a prescription at Broadway pharmacy, and they also filled a prescription at MediCenter, we would have no way to know without having this database,” he said.

To address privacy concerns, Funk said the systems are not meant to violate people’s privacy and only a few technicians can access the database.

“Every time they do, I get a ping on mine that says hey this person has accessed it, and this is what they’re looking. Log on and you can check. So, I can log on and check and make sure no one’s looking inappropriately, it’s all being done the way it’s supposed to be done, with true patient care in mind,” said Funk.

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